Sunday, September 19, 2010

Good Television

If you haven't seen the recent exchange on Fox News over privatizing the postal service, it's definitely worth watching (you won't hear me say that often about Fox News, but this is an exception).

Anyway, the video's making a splash because a racist Fox News commentator makes some pretty awful statements.  Unlike most of the time a racist Fox commentator opens their mouth, however, this time he gets called out and shouted down.  The whole thing makes for pretty good television, no question. 

But the racism is being covered in plenty of depth just about everywhere.  Instead, I want to talk about the issue Fox's panel of "experts" are in absolute agreement over: that the US Postal Service is a waste of money, and the whole thing would be better off in private hands.  They drop some numbers, and I'm just going to assume they're accurate: the Postal Service apparently loses seven billion dollars a year while their private sector competition turns a healthy profit, and that there are almost three times as many Post Offices in America than McDonald's.

Of course, the implication is clear: the Post Office is throwing away money on extraneous Offices.  Private industry, obviously, would be able to trim the fat, so to speak.  They could deliver the mail cheaper and more efficiently.

And - let's be honest - they could.  I have no doubt that UPS and FedEx could turn the industry around and make money delivering first class mail.

The important part is how they could do it.  And that takes us back to all those extraneous Post Offices.  You see, there are plenty of McDonald's here in New York City, just as there are in most every city.  That's because it's profitable to build a McDonald's in cities - just as it's profitable to build Post Offices and deliver mail here.  Wherever the population density is high, there's money to be made, because of increased volume.

But out in the various small towns and villages that dot America - you know the ones I'm talking about; they tend to vote Republican and watch Fox News - yeah, not many McDonald's around there.  And, if we turned mail delivery over to UPS, they'd thin out the Post Offices pretty quickly, too.  I'm sure it would still be possible to send mail, though, so long as you're willing to drive a few towns over to the nearest UPS store.  Likewise, I'm sure they'd be happy to deliver mail to those homes... it's just that it might cost a bit more.  Say, three or four times as much.

So if conservative America is really so sick of the socialized mail delivery system we have now, I for one would welcome replacing it with something more in line with their Capitalist ideals.  Because, frankly, I'm getting sick and tired of subsidizing their whining.

I'd rather just sit back and watch news footage of Congressional Republicans having to explain to their constituents why it now costs them $1.50 to send a postcard across town.  Because THAT would make for some really good television.


David S. said...

One of the things that completely astonished me about that Fox News clip was the following:

basically, everyone involved in the "discussion" was relatively okay with dehumanizing postal workers, simply letting lie the proposition that they're unskilled workers and that taxi driving is also an unskilled position. The upper-middle-class privilege just reeked from everyone talking, and only when it angled toward the racist, anti-immigrant rhetoric did anyone try to call it out.

I'd say that a postal worker or a taxi driver is an infinitely more skilled, worthy, and valuable contribution to society than dressing up one's ignorant, class-prejudiced id as a "GOP strategist."

Erin Snyder said...

David - Agreed. I certainly can't fathom knowing the intricate streets of NYC a tenth as well as your average cab driver. On the other hand, it would take me maybe two weeks of research to learn the issues in enough depth to fake being a cable news commentator.

Anonymous said...

It was great when "BS" was finally shouted on Fox News. As for the money the post offices BS. Post office lost around $3.5 billion, not a dime came out of taxpayer money. They just took a loss like any other public company would have if they were not bailed out. Fox will not point that out because they prefer to continue the edification of dunderheads in the Fox News idiocracy.